Clay Buchholz admits his throwing shoulder still restricts him but the Red Sox starting pitcher vows to give everything he can on Sunday in his World Series Game Four assignment against the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Boston right-hander began the season in sublime form, storming out to a 9-0 record with a 1.71 earned run average before shoulder tightness shut him down in June and kept him sidelined for three months.
Buchholz returned in September, going 3-1 with a 1.88 ERA in four starts to finish at 12-1, but he has been hittable in the postseason and will be pitching for the first time in seven days after being given extra rest by manager John Farrell.
"Overall everything went good," Buchholz told reporters about a recent practice session on the mound. "Obviously there's a little bit of rust there.
"My one thing is that I have to go and compete, go out there for as long as John wants to leave me out there and give the team a chance to win to the best of my ability.
"Obviously given the couple of days that I've been out so far, I'm not a hundred percent. I don't think anybody, especially at this time of the season, is a hundred percent."
Buchholz will be matched up against Lance Lynn, who was 15-10 with a 3.97 ERA this season for St. Louis.
Boston manager Farrell said he was optimistic about Buchholz.
"We go into tomorrow thinking that he's going to give us what he's been in the postseason. That might be a little bit shorter of an outing than maybe we've seen back in April and May," Farrell said.
"But he's also been very effective. And we're fully anticipating that to be the case tomorrow."
Over three postseason starts, Buchholz has posted a 5.40 ERA and allowed 19 hits in 16-2/3 innings with opponents batting .284 against him.
In his last outing, however, he threw five shutout innings against Detroit in Game Six of the American League championship series before being replaced after two batters got on in the sixth and was charged with those runs when reliever Franklin Morales gave up a single.
Buchholz said getting to pitch in his first World Series was a prime motivator.
"It's going to be my first World Series experience being on the field, and I think that just the environment, the crowd, the adrenaline, that's going to help me out, too," he said.
The slender righty said he would not play hero, and that if his shoulder began to bother him he would tell the manager.
"Being at this level, especially on this stage, it's tough to take yourself out of a game. I've never done that before," said Buchholz.
"But with this scenario that's going on right now, I'm going to tell them the truth."